Polly Clark

Lessons from the School of Night

It’s not so much about imagery or language as it is about longing for that human connection. It’s imagining yourself into another life in order to connect with it and be less isolated. And that is the case in my poetry as well – imagination is a way of reaching other people.
— Polly Clark

Sean Robinson met with Polly Clark at Toppings bookshop, after her appearance at the School of Night, where she read from her novel Larchfield. They discussed the difference between writing a novel and writing a poem, as well as the roles of imagination and location in the writing process. Polly also read her poem ‘Heaven’ (at 14m55s).

Note: We are currently moving our files from Soundcloud to another system. Please bear with us – the ‘Lessons from the School of Night’ will be back soon!

Image: Johnny Adolphson

Polly Clark was born in Toronto and lives in Helensburgh on Scotland’s west coast, close to where W.H. Auden wrote The Orators. She is Literature Programme Producer for Cove Park, Scotland’s International Artist Residency Centre, and the author of three poetry collections. She won the MsLexia Prize for Larchfield, the Eric Gregory Award, and has been shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize. Larchfield will be published by Quercus under their riverrun imprint March 2017. Her pamphlet A Handbook for the Afterlife was shortlisted in the 2016 Michael Marks Awards and a volume of New and Selected Poems, Afterlife, is due in 2018.

Sean Robinson is studying for a masters in poetry writing at St. Andrews under Don Paterson. An erstwhile policy wonk, he graduated in 2013 from Oxford with a bachelors in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and worked for some time with the Civil Service, until deciding to chuck it all in to do something useful, and write poems. He is from London.


Lessons from the School of Night are an irregular series of video or audio interviews and tips from poets and writers who visit St Andrews. 

The School of Night – inspired by the group which included Christopher Marlowe and Sir Walter Raleigh – is Topping & Company Booksellers’ Year-Round Poetry Festival in St Andrews. Curated with the help of Don Paterson and playing host to poets as varied as Paul Muldoon and Lorraine Mariner, Simon Armitage and Annie Freud, it is anchored to a regular fixture on the last Tuesday of the month. The School of Night offers the chance to explore and discuss the work of some of the best poets on the contemporary scene. For more details on these and other events, please visit the Topping & Company website.